Texas is a vast state of many extremes. From politics and culture to geography the state is unique. More that 260,000 square miles in size the state has different geographical zones and much to be proud of.
But Texans have much to be worried about too, including a large list of invasive species.
Invasive species are a problem the world over. The term includes plants, animals, insects, mammals, fish and any other life form that has arrived far from its native home. A classic example is the housecat. Cats have followed humans all over the world. When they arrive somewhere where they are a top predator they wreak havoc. See Australia and Poland’s efforts to control them.
But back to Texas. Here is a short list of the invasive species that are troubling residents. Many more could be added.
- Fire Ants ( Solenopsis invicta. ) These critters arrived in Texas in the 1970’s and are pests to humans, and other animals. They aren’t good for the estimated 250 native species of ants either. According to the Centers for Disease Control the invaders came from South America in the 1930’s. They have spread over much of the south and even into parts of California. Due to lack of predators there are an estimated 5 times as many per acre as there are in their homeland. They are aggressive and both bite and sting. They have a venom and can cause serious health problems for those bitten.
- Feral higs. (Sus scrofa). Although these are the same animals as Babe, Porky and Miss Piggy there is a world of difference. We have written about it here. More than 6 million are estimated to be running wild in the United States. Italy has a problem too.
- Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) These are small invaders from lakes and rivers in Russia and the Ukraine. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife they are spreading from lake to lake in the state. Among the problems they cause are clogged pipes – impeding water distribution. They encrust docks, machinery and restrict boating. They also encourage the growth of invasive plants and displace or choke other mussels. The state is encouraging vigilance by boaters and even kayak users to limit spread.
- Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). Although a beautiful green the creature is highly destructive. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)The beetles can strip the canopy off an ash tree is about two years and kill it in four.
- Giant African snails (Lissachatina fulica). The USDA says these creatures arrived in Hawaii in 1936 and the continent in 1966. They damage agriculture and other plant life because they feed on hundreds of plant species. Snails have recently arrived in Florida, which has its own invasive species problems
The list of invasive species seems almost endless. The battle against them sometimes seems hopeless but many researchers and working to try and contain them.